HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ
ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
FRIDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS CONFLICT IN SYRIA REACHING NEW AND APPALLING HEIGHTS OF VIOLENCE
- The Secretary-General spoke to the General Assembly on Friday on the conflict in Syria, which he said is reaching new and appalling heights of brutality and violence.
- Although the United Nations cannot independently verify the figures, he said, some have estimated that as many as 40,000 people have been killed. The Secretary-General condemned the seemingly daily massacres of civilians, saying that the assaults on human dignity must end and those responsible must be held to account.
- The Secretary-General said that, with winter upon us, potentially 4 million men, women and children inside Syria will be in need before the New Year. We also expect the total number of refugees to reach 700,000 by early next year. At the same time, the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan is only 50 per cent funded and the Regional Response Plan is only 38 per cent funded. The Secretary-General said he planned to visit refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey soon to assess the situation on the ground.
- The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, also addressed the Assembly, saying that the only option that all sides should work for is a negotiated political process. He warned that there is no trust among the parties in Syria, and he doubted that a workable peace plan could be developed by regional Governments in the near future.
- He said that the final communiqué of the Action Group for Syria which met in June in Geneva contains the building blocks for a peace process. Those elements need to be translated into a Security Council statement.
- Asked whether the Secretary-General was concerned that there may be a major offensive starting in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had made clear that he was concerned about the intensified fighting in the country, as had Mr. Brahimi.
- Asked about violence that affected UN peacekeepers travelling through Damascus, Haq said that the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) confirmed that a convoy of 13 armoured UN vehicles received fire earlier today while en route from Damascus International Airport. Small arms fire is believed to have hit most convoy vehicles; there have been no injuries reported.
- He added that the Secretary-General had issued a statement in response to an incident on Thursday in which two UNDOF peacekeepers were wounded.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS IT IS URGENT TO RESUME NEGOTATIONS BETWEEN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS
- The resolution on the question of Palestine was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday afternoon, by a vote of 138 votes in favour to 9 against, with 41 abstentions.
- Speaking afterward, the Secretary-General said that the General Assembly vote underscores the urgency of a resumption of meaningful negotiations. We must give new impetus to our collective efforts to ensure that an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine lives side by side with a secure State of Israel.
- He urged the parties to renew their commitment to a negotiated peace. The Secretary-General counts on all concerned to act responsibly, preserve the achievements in Palestinian state building under the leadership of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, and intensify efforts towards reconciliation and the just and lasting peace which remains our shared goal and priority.
- Asked about an announcement concerning new Israeli settlements, the Spokesperson recalled that the Secretary-General has repeatedly said that settlements are unhelpful to the peace process.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO DOHA TO ATTEND CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE
- Early next week, the Secretary-General will travel to Doha to attend the eighteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- On Tuesday, 4 December, he will attend the opening of the high-level segment of the session of the Conference of Parties and will give a press conference with the Executive Secretary of the Framework Convention, Christiana Figueres. He will also meet with officials from different countries and regional groups attending the talks, as well as business and finance leaders.
- Following that, he will visit Kuwait, where he will meet with the Emir and the Prime Minister, as well as with his newly-appointed Humanitarian Envoy for Kuwait, Abdullah al-Matouq.
- At the end of the week, as he informed the General Assembly this morning, the Secretary-General intends to visit camps for Syrian refugees in both Jordan and Turkey and draw attention to the humanitarian needs there. In Jordan, after visiting one refugee camp near the Syrian border, he will meet with Government officials in Amman. In Turkey, he will travel first to a refugee camp before going to Ankara to meet with the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
- The Secretary-General will return to New York at the end of the week.
WOMEN MUST BE PART OF THE SOLUTION WHEREVER THERE IS CONFLICT, U.N. WOMEN CHIEF TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
- The Security Council met on Friday on women, peace and security. Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women, told Council members that, wherever there is conflict, whether in Mali, Syria, the Middle East, or Eastern DR Congo, women must be part of the solution.
- She highlighted what women's groups in Mali are doing right now to contribute to non-violent solutions to the crisis. In spite of their absence from official conflict resolution processes, women leaders in the North are using informal channels to call on the leaders of armed groups to participate in peace dialogues.
- The Deputy Secretary-General delivered a message on the Secretary-General’s behalf, saying that engaging women and promoting gender equality as part of our work for peace and security is a daily responsibility and an unfinished mission for all of us. He said it is time for us to finally recognise the role and power of women to help us build a peaceful world.
- And Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous said that peacekeeping missions have supported important progress in some areas, notably women's political participation at local and national levels. He added that in other areas - including the protection of women activists – more could be achieved.
- Friday was the last day of India’s Security Council Presidency. Morocco will take over the Presidency of the Security Council in December.
U.N. MISSION IN DR CONGO MONITORS CLOSELY M23 ARMED GROUP MOVEMENTS
- The UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is closely monitoring M23 armed group movements. There are reports of M23 movement in different locations.
- The Mission is planning aerial reconnaissance to monitor the implementation of the cease-fire.
- Asked about reports citing M23 officials saying that UN peacekeepers were preventing an M23 withdrawal from Goma, the Spokesperson said that the reports are not correct.
- He said that UN peacekeepers in the DRC, especially those present in Goma, are engaged in facilitating the withdrawal from the city of M23 troops, as agreed by the leaders of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Kampala last weekend.
- Asked about reports of human rights violations in Minova, the Spokesperson said that the human rights officers of MONUSCO would look into the allegations.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TO VISIT BANGLADESH, MYANMAR AND THAILAND
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, will travel to Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand between 2 and 8 December 2012.
- The mission is the first official visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar by Ms. Amos in her role as UN Humanitarian Chief.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
1 – 7 DECEMBER 2012
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 1 December
Today is World AIDS Day.
Today, Morocco will assume the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for December.
Sunday, 2 December
Today is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.
Monday, 3 December
Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
At 9:00 a.m., in Conference Room 6 of the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be an Expert Group Meeting on new trends in migration, organized by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
At 10:00 a.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (NLB), there will be the twenty-first International Conference on Health and Environment, organized by the Permanent Mission of Ukraine, in cooperation with the World Information Transfer Inc.
At 9:45 a.m., in Conference Room 2 (NLB), there will be the opening ceremony and launch of the preparatory process of the High-level meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development (23 September 2013). It will be co-organized by the Office of the President of the General Assembly, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Permanent Missions of the Philippines and Spain.
At 11:00 a.m., in Conference Room 2 (NLB), there will be a panel discussion on “The way forward: A disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”.
At 12:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, will be the guest at the Noon Briefing.
At 3:00 p.m., in Conference Room 2 (NLB), there will be the United Nations Enable Film Festival.
At 3:00 p.m., in Conference Room 4 (NLB), there will be a Ministerial Follow-up Forum to the Paris Commitments and Paris Principles on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups. It will be co-organized by the Permanent Mission of France, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, in collaboration with the Paris Principles Steering Group.
In Geneva, the 1st session of the Forum on Business and Human Rights will begin. It will end on 5 December.
In Geneva, the 17th session of the UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery / Board of Trustees will begin. It will end on 7 December.
In Geneva, the 12th meeting of the State Parties of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (also known as the Ottawa Convention or Mine Ban Treaty) will begin. It will end on 7 December.
In Geneva, there will be a press conference to launch a new report entitled “Measuring Progress towards a Green Economy”. Speakers will include Steven Stone, Chief of the Economics and Trade Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Sheng Fulai, Economist and Head of UNEP’s Green Economy Research.
Tuesday, 4 December
Today, the Secretary-General will attend the opening of the high-level segment of the session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar. Following that, he will visit Kuwait and he intends to visit camps for Syrian refugees in both Jordan and Turkey.
At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 4 (NLB), the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) will meet.
At 12:30 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki, President of the Security Council for the month of December and Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations.
At 1:15 p.m., in the Auditorium of the Permanent Mission of Germany, there will be a special event on “Targeted sanctions, human rights and due process –– The future of the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida sanctions regime”. It will be co-organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Permanent Mission of Germany.
In Geneva, there will be a press conference on “Greater income share for labour -- the essential catalyst for global economic recovery and employment” by Heiner Flassbeck, Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
In Geneva, there will be a press conference on the opening of the first UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. Speakers will include Puvan Selvanathan, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
Wednesday, 5 December
Today is the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development.
At 3:00 p.m., in Conference Room C (NLB), there will be a high-level working session on “Youth and older adults as city changers: Connecting the generations”, co-organized by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the International Council for Caring Communities (ICCC).
In Geneva, there will be a background briefing on negotiations on an international treaty to improve access to copyrighted works for visually impaired or print disabled people, by Geidy Lung, Senior Counsellor in the Copyright Law Division of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Thursday, 6 December
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Friday, 7 December
Today is International Civil Aviation Day.
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 7 (NLB), there will be a panel discussion on “Drug policy reforms at the national and local levels”. It will be organized by the Permanent Mission of Guatemala, in collaboration with the International Drug Policy Consortium and the Social Science Research Council.
In Geneva, there will a press conference to launch the Global Wage Report by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Speakers will include Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO, Patrick Belser, Senior Economist, and Marcia Poole, Director of the Department of Communication.